Unusual Antlers

The configuration and dimensions of deer antlers are dependent on genetics and physical condition, and at times can be quite odd.

Q: I shot a mule deer in Wyoming last year with very unusual antlers. Every person I have shown them to says they have never seen anything like it. Can you tell me how this could happen?

A: Unusual antler formation can result from various factors. Bucks with noticeably asymmetrical antlers may simply be displaying a genetic trait that will surface in some individuals and can even become quite common in localized populations. Other malformations, includ­ing twisted beams and/or tines, palmation, and misshapen masses with numerous points (often small "stickers") may result from the buck's physical condition. In his book Antlers—Nature's Majestic Crown (Voyaguer Press, 1995), author Erwin Bauer cites," ... injury to the antler or pedicle early in development, screw worm infestations, or ... injuries to the animal elsewhere in the body" as some causes of nontypical antlers.

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